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Packers Brace For The Blitz Of The Bills


Crowd noise pumped through the speakers at the Don Hutson Center during Friday's walk-through practice to simulate the Buffalo Bills' raucous Ralph Wilson Stadium, while the Green Bay Packers' work during this week's practice prepared them for facing the Bills defense on Saturday.

After the Bills sacked Packers quarterbacks eight times during the "Family Night" scrimmage, the Packers offense has emphasized pass protecting against blitz schemes during the week.

"We're a pretty good blitz team. We take pride in that," offensive coordinator Tom Rossley said. "We'll be much more prepared."

The Packers did not prepare a scouting report for "Family Night" because it was only a scrimmage. In practice they had faced a Packers defense that usually rushed only their front four.

"(The Bills) kind of caught us off guard -- especially our young guys," Rossley said.

The Bills likely will blitz on more than 60 percent of their plays, and quarterbacks Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers and Craig Nall will face that pass rush on Saturday. Each should receive extended action against a defense that ranked second in the league last year.

"We don't just want to put them in for a series or two," Rossley said. "We want them to get comfortable and hopefully we'll get to have some sustained drives where they stay on the field for a while."

After not attempting any passes last week, Nall will receive the snaps J.T. O'Sullivan did during last week's game versus the Chargers.

O'Sullivan completed 4-of-8 passes for 24 yards and led the Packers's eight play, 29-yard game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. O'Sullivan will not likely play against the Bills unless the Packers take more snaps than expected.

Rookie William Whitticker and Adrian Klemm will block for the quarterbacks at starting right and left guard respectively.

Whitticker, a seventh-round draft pick, will face a difficult test against Bills defensive tackle Sam Adams. Throughout training camp, the 338-pound rookie has wowed the coaching staff with his composure, athletic ability and his cohesiveness with his fellow lineman.

"Nothing fazes him. He doesn't get nervous. He doesn't panic, and he's strong, athletic," Rossley said. "He's done a great job."

Klemm will start the game before giving way to Scott Wells. The players have contrasting styles. The more fleet-of-foot Klemm stands 6-4 and has better athleticism while the 6-2 Wells has shorter arms but better strength at the point of attack.

Their performance in Saturday's game could help decide a tight race for the starting left guard position.

"They're in a battle," Rossley said.

Guard/center Grey Ruegamer appears out of the mix for a starting position but remains an integral part of the squad. His ability to play center and both guard positions increases his value.

"That sixth or seventh guy has to be very versatile," Rossley said. "Ruegy's a real sharp guy. He's a pro. He's doing well."

On defense, the secondary will feature two different starters from the Chargers game. Safety Mark Roman (hamstring) did not participate in Friday's walk-through practice, and eight-year veteran Earl Little will start in his place.

Little entered the NFL in 1997 as an undrafted free agent with the Miami Dolphins. He knows the importance of using preseason games to better his chances of securing his spot on the roster and possibly a role with the first string.

"I always go out there on the field with a chip on my shoulder," Little said. "I'm a seasoned veteran, but I still have to go out there and prove myself."

Neither Al Harris (quadriceps) nor Joey Thomas (hip, calf) participated in Friday's walk-through. Rookie Mike Hawkins will make his first preseason start in their absence.

"I'm just doing all I can to take advantage of the opportunity," Hawkins said.

Little's opportunity comes after spurning interest from the Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams. He signed with the Packers as a free agent because of their winning track record even though they could not guarantee him a starting spot.

"I didn't want anything given to me," Little said.

Little and several other Packers could earn starting positions during the regular season with strong perfomances on Saturday.

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